Mark Your Calendar

March 13, 2015

Yesterday the Rainiers announced the date of the annual pre-season party at Cheney Stadium: it’s going to be on Saturday, March 28th, from 11 AM to 2 PM.

It’s an opportunity for people to tour the ballpark, including the locker rooms and the suite level. Concessions will be open and Rhubarb will be there.

Also, those of you who are season ticket holders can pick up your tickets at the box office that day.

The pre-season party is a free event – come see us in two weeks! Here’s the information page from the Rainiers website.

Not much baseball news for me to write about today, but we do have some links in case your Friday afternoon is a slow one and you want to do some reading.

Links:

Have a good weekend!


Pitching Developments

March 11, 2015

We’ve got two interesting developments on the pitching front which could impact the Rainiers this season.

Danny Hultzen is set to pitch in today’s exhibition game against the Colorado Rockies. This is a big step for Hultzen, who has not pitched in a game since 2013 and is coming off major shoulder surgery. Hopefully he’ll have a good, healthy outing today.

Even if he proves he is healthy, we are not certain if Hultzen will open the season with the Rainiers. The Mariners are understandably going to be very careful as they build his workload up, and it will be a gradual increase in innings/pitch count. They could treat him like a pitcher on a rehabilitation assignment, and have him make his first start in Class-A, then a start or two in Double-A, and then Tacoma.

This is truly a one-day-at-a-time situation. For now, we’ll see how he feels after pitching today.

Yesterday the Mariners announced that they signed major league veteran Kevin Correia to a minor league contract, meaning he could theoretically open the season with the Rainiers.

Correia is going to compete to make the Mariners starting rotation, which seems like a far-fetched idea right now. Except… well, he’s done it before. A lot.

The 34-year-old right-hander has started over 200 games in the majors, and he has been a regular member of a starting rotation in the big leagues since 2009. He’s generally been a 4th or 5th starter and has a career record of 76-95, with a 4.59 ERA.

Correia fits in as depth. A spring injury or two and all of a sudden you are real happy that you signed him.

For the Rainiers, the question is more about if he is willing to pitch in Triple-A if he doesn’t make the Mariners. Due to his experience, he probably has an opt-out in his contract if he doesn’t make the M’s opening day roster. Correia hasn’t pitched in a minor league game since 2008.

He is a former PCL player: Correia came up through the Giants system and pitched for Fresno from 2003-2005 before establishing himself in the big leagues.

He should be quite good if he is in the Rainiers rotation – but that seems kind of unlikely right now.

Links:

I happen to be in Vegas right now, for the Pac-12 Tournament (my favorite event of the off-season – hoping for a lot of close games, and Go Bears!). But we’ll still have a blog update for you on Friday so come back then.


Rainiers Go Red, Commit To The ‘R’

March 9, 2015

Hey guys, we got new uniforms!

The Rainiers announced some changes for 2015 to the official uniform lineup.

Tacoma has a new red jersey which is officially the alternate uniform and will be worn on Thursday and Sunday home games (Minor League Baseball allows three uniform sets: home, away, and alternate). The red uniforms replace the navy-blue-with-red-sleeves alternates that the team has worn for the last five years.

The main home and away jerseys remain pretty much the same, with some updated lettering on the front. In particular, the lettering of the “Tacoma” across the chest of the away jerseys has been changed to look like the original Tacoma jerseys from 1960.

The club also announced that the batting practice hat will have a brand new mountain-and-icepick logo.

The big change is that the Rainiers have switched to the ‘R’ hat as the game hat for all uniforms.

I love that the team decided to make the ‘R’ the official game hat. This hat has been sold in the team store for the past two years, even though it hasn’t been worn on the field. Those of us who work for the team keep an eye out for Rainiers gear around town, and it is clear that people like wearing the ‘R’ hat more than the hats that the team has worn in games recently. So due to a pretty obvious popular opinion, we’re switching.

As for the players, my hunch is that they are going to really like the red sets.

Click here for a look at the various uniform combos. We also have a picture of some of the guys posing in the new gear.

A few roster notes from Arizona:

Ji-Man Choi was removed from the Mariners 40-man roster. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Tacoma roster. This means the Mariners retain his rights and he’ll play in the organization when he gets healthy – which might not be until 2016, or could be toward the end of this season.

Lefty reliever Edgar Olmos is back in the fold. Last week he was removed from the Mariners 40-man roster, claimed off waivers by Texas, didn’t pass his physical due to shoulder soreness, and was returned to the Mariners. For now he retains his spot on the Mariners 40-man roster, and we’ll wait for more information on his health. Prior to the injury, we had Olmos pegged as a Tacoma reliever this season.

Links:


Rainiers Lose Choi

March 5, 2015

The Mariners opened up the exhibition season with a win over San Diego on Wednesday afternoon, but it was a win that came with some consequences.

Tacoma Rainiers first baseman/outfielder Ji-Man Choi fractured the fibula in his right leg while playing defense at first base, and he is having surgery on it this afternoon. Initial reports say Choi is expected to miss 4-to-6 months.

That’s pretty much the whole season. Maybe he can come back near the end.

Sadly, this is just more of the same for Choi. His career has been marked by two things he’s been really good at: a) hitting and b) missing a lot of games.

Choi has been in the Mariners system since 2010. He’s only played in 352 games over five years, but his career numbers are .304/.407/.492 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage). That’s a terrific line.

He just can’t stay on the field. He’s had back surgery, a 50-game suspension for PEDs, and now a broken leg (and that’s just the serious stuff – he’s also missed shorter periods of time with minor injuries).

Choi turns 24 in May so he still has time to have a major league career when/if he gets healthy.

In the meantime, as far as the 2015 Rainiers go this changes the first base situation. Expect Jesus Montero, D.J. Peterson, and Patrick Kivlehan to see time there.

There is another exhibition game against the Padres today at noon – it’s on Root and 710 AM. I’ll be rooting for nobody to get hurt.

Links:

  • Bob Dutton has a report on the status of Ji-Man Choi.
  • It wasn’t all bad news in the exhibition opener. D.J. Peterson hit a solo homer off El Paso Chihuahuas lefty Jason Lane. That’s some good PCL practice for D.J. Larry Stone has a column on Peterson.
  • Taijuan Walker made a strong first impression as he tries to win a spot in the Mariners rotation, firing two scoreless innings yesterday.
  • Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times has a notebook on yesterday’s events and some Thursday Morning Mariners Musings.
  • Ballpark Digest has a review of the new upgrades at the Mariners spring training ballpark in Peoria.
  • In the PCL, the Albuquerque Isotopes unveiled an alternate logo and it looks pretty sharp. The ‘Topes are very good at the logo game.
  • Bull Durham is the best baseball movie – no, we are not going to argue about this, because it is a fact – and “Too Bad, Butch” Davis is now a coach for the Twins.

Not sure if we’ll have an update on Friday – I have some other projects that must be dealt with. If not, we’ll be back with a new post on Monday which will probably have a whole lot of links.


Game Today!

March 4, 2015

Not here in Tacoma – it’s down in Peoria, Arizona. But it’s on TV here, at noon on Root.

A real, live baseball game featuring several players who will be members of the Tacoma Rainiers on opening day.

The exhibition season is underway at Mariners spring training camp, and we’ll finally start getting some reports on how players are looking in real-game situations.

Taijuan Walker gets the start for the M’s today, and he’s a guy who is hoping to not be in Tacoma this season. It’s a battle for him: he’s trying to beat out Roenis Elias and Erasmo Ramirez for the Mariners No. 5 starter spot.

Walker gets a bit of a test today, as he faces the San Diego Padres. The Padres have both of their shiny new acquisitions in the starting lineup: Matt Kemp and Justin Upton.

The majority of the Mariners lineup is filled with likely Rainiers players. Check out the full lineups in the first link down below.

It’s nearly game time. Prepare yourself accordingly.

Links:

Our next update will be on Friday afternoon.


Spring Training In Tacoma?

March 2, 2015

Down in Peoria, Arizona, the Seattle Mariners intended to play their first intrasquad game today.

It was rained out.

Meanwhile, it is nice and sunny here at the Tacoma Rainiers North End Satellite Office (aka my house), and the weather has been quite nice here for most of the last ten days.

We should have spring training in Tacoma. OK, that’s probably not a good idea – but at least we would have gotten today’s intrasquad game played.

Exhibition games start for real on Wednesday, when the Mariners play the Padres in the annual charity game in Peoria, which does not count as an actual exhibition game, so it is a pre-exhibition game of sorts. Whatever – it’s a baseball game. With uniforms, fans, umpires, and everything. Wednesday.

In the meantime, here is a boatload of links:

Next update will be Wednesday.


Tacoma Infield Looking Stronger

February 27, 2015

This latest round of stories from Mariners spring training shed some light on a few items of interest for Tacoma Rainiers fans.

First off, it’s beginning to look like the Rainiers are going to be real strong in the middle infield. This is because indications from Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon (link to the news story is down below) reveal that unless there are spring training injuries, either Chris Taylor or Brad Miller will be optioned to Tacoma. One of those two players will be the Mariners starting shortstop, and the other will be in Tacoma playing every day.

The Rainiers already have a promising shortstop inked onto the roster in Ketel Marte. I suppose this means that Marte and Taylor/Miller will be bouncing between second base and shortstop for Tacoma – all in the name of positional flexibility, which the Mariners value. And that will be a good thing for the 2015 Rainiers.

The other potentially Rainiers-related story in the below links is on veteran outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who is in spring training camp after sitting out all of last year. Gutierrez spent his year away from the game in Miami trying to get healthy, and from the story you can tell that he definitely missed being a part of it.

The story will make you root for Gutierrez. Landing a spot on the Rainiers opening day roster would be a big step forward for him.

Links:

That light on the horizon is becoming a little bit brighter: the Mariners first exhibition game is on Wednesday.


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